Is Your Business Keeping Up With Changes in Retail?
Business, for the most part, used to be a relatively simple proposition. You would stock your products on the shelves or list your services on a storefront sign and wait for customers to come charging through the door. Today it’s an entirely different world. Modern-day retailers, for instance, must align their selling model with websites and numerous mobile apps. Even the brick-and-mortar stores must run an efficient e-commerce operation as well, if they want to survive.
Growing Consumer Expectations
Consumers themselves have changed the game. They are more demanding, more sophisticated in their knowledge of products and less willing to settle for second best. Whether they interact directly with the seller or not, they are looking for a convenient, seamless experience. This requires significant technical expertise on the other end of the equation.There are so many different touch points for consumers in the modern retail process. For instance, buyers can shop via website, mobile, in-store or even through social media. As a business, this requires considerable deftness and balance in maintaining your brand without diluting it or splintering it to where it’s virtually unrecognizable. So it’s vital to have a clear understanding of your brand values and to effectively enunciate them through everything you do. This means also running a tight, closely-controlled internal operation that emphasizes product education and training. While affordable cloud accounting software programs like ZarMoney constantly update their offerings to meet the changing dynamics that impact small businesses, it’s imperative to keep your staff nimble as well, so they can efficiently implement any new plans designed to keep you moving at the pace of the newest trends.
Maintaining the Personal ConnectionOne of the biggest complaints about today’s online society, even voiced from those who utilize it the most, is its impersonal nature. People like to deal with other people. So the key is to embrace new technology while unlocking its personal essence. If you can make it possible for your customers to utilize technology that simplifies their shopping experience, while also making them feel that they are receiving personal attention, then you are miles ahead in the game. Even more overriding than the “people” factor, however, is the pursuit of change. Younger customers, particularly, want to access the latest, greatest gadgetry. If they can see any indication at all, no matter how small, that a particular changing technology adds efficiency and saves time, they will demand it.
Navigating Through Instant FeedbackIt’s much easier now to stay aware of these technology improvements, especially in a world where consumers can seek out the lowest prices or the best selection with a couple of keystrokes. Chat boards and other online devices provide instantaneous reviews and feedback. And woe to the business that doesn’t live up to its promise; customers will immediately take to social media, where they will criticize the business or product mercilessly.
Loyalty is only as strong as your latest online speed. Websites, for instance, must work as fast and efficiently as possible. Just as important, they should be designed for mobile-friendly use. Anything less these days will send your customers looking elsewhere. Consumers are extremely impatient, with no consideration given to those who fail to live up to expectations.
Fortunately, social media is a two-way street. It’s not just an avenue for voicing gripes. It’s also an effective tool for developing a message and a recognizable persona, for creating buzz and distilling marketing content. In many cases, visionary companies even involve their customers in the process, soliciting suggestions via social media about improvements to their products and services. Most marketing experts see this as a positive trend, even if it leaves businesses open for criticism that can be seen across the cyber world. By engaging and involving consumers, not to mention allowing them to co-create through their own ideas and concepts, a business can stay relevant and on the cutting edge of change.
Anticipating the Next Big Thing
The very latest technologies, such as robotics and 3D printing, will up the ante of collaboration even more. It might even cut some businesses completely out of the process as consumers utilize tools that allow them to make their own products. How will this impact licensing, intellectual property rights and the like? That’s something that every business should follow closely.
Already, customers are pushing for more involvement in the online process. As ordering products through the Internet grows at an exponential rate, we should see more and more retailers offering free returns on online sales. Many already maintain databases of customers’ sizes for different brands, to ensure more accurate and satisfactory online shopping.
For those buyers who do seek out the physical store environment, retailers are expected to increase their use of instant messaging to people’s phones when they are near or inside a store. These messages could include such enticements as discount coupons, directions to special sale aisles and reminders about certain items that the customer has been known to shop for in the past. Steps in this direction have already yielded promising results.
Though much of this technology is already in full use, it’s the frequency and the extensiveness of the applications that will be ramped up to meet the changing demands of the marketplace. And, of course, new concepts and devices will continue to be introduced, creating a highly fluid retail environment. With all of these advancements occurring, now is the time to take stock of your own technology and to give it the tweaks it may require to keep you relevant in an arena that is susceptible to worrisome pitfalls, but loaded with exciting possibilities.
Powerful Online Presence
In other words you need a website. But not just any website. A good website meets the following criteria:
- Is user friendly. A mess full of links, text, too large or too small images and a eye-drying color schema just won't work.
- Is simple. A good website and its content is so simple a 4th grader has no troubles understanding what is it about and how to navigate it without having a headache.
- Is properly coded. Nobody likes sites that break all the time.
- Is SEO optimized. We know, SEO already means Search Engine Optimization, but SEO optimisation is still a term. In other words, you website must be easy to find in all the websites found out there.
- Fits your audience. How would you feel when shopping for medicine for your granny's cat at the website that looks like it sells Harley's?
- Secure. Who likes information and money leaks?
- Fast. Trust me, when someone says, loading website 10 seconds is fine, he is lying to your pocket. 10 seconds under normal circumstances is 30 seconds on phone. And tell yourself honestly, when did you last time wait for a website on your phone to load for 30 seconds?
- And much, much more. A good website has so many aspects it deserver its own whitepaper. Luckily for you, there is a way to get it done simpler. There are many great website builders with guides implemented right in its systems, color schemes already arranged and font sizes already pre-set.
Which ones you may ask? Well, this alone would suffice for yet another white paper, taking as pretty far from the original topic of this article. There are providers like Wixx, Webnode, HubSpot, Elementor, SquareSpace only to mention a few you already know about.